Patriot League Submits Nominations for NCAA Woman of the Year Award

Navy's Jess Palacio

June 14, 2012

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – Two of the Patriot League’s most decorated female student-athletes in the last four years earned more recognition Thursday, as the League announced it nominated Colgate’s Elise DeRoo and Navy’s Jess Palacio for the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

The Patriot League's Senior Woman Administrators chose DeRoo and Palacio as nominees due to their excellence in the four areas of importance for the NCAA Woman of the Year award: service, leadership, athletics and academics.

Both recently-graduated seniors, DeRoo and Palacio became two of the most well-known and respected student-athletes within the Patriot League in the last four years, as both earned multiple League titles in either cross country or track and field.

DeRoo, a native of Newtown, Conn., finished up an incredible four-year career at Colgate in this spring. She was a dominant force in cross country for two years, capturing the women’s individual championships in 2009 and 2010 before taking third at the 2011 event. Her 2010 season in cross country was so strong that she earned an invitation to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., where she placed 100th, the highest finish for any League student-athlete since 2006.

DeRoo was also a force within the League in both the indoor and outdoor seasons of track and field during her career. She won a pair of individual titles at the 2010 indoor championship meet in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs en route to earning first-team All-League laurels. That spring she added two more victories in the 5,000 and 10,000 events at the outdoor championships. She earned another gold at the 2011 indoor championships when she set the meet record with a winning effort in the 1,000, and was part of Colgate’s meet record-setting foursome that took first in the distance medley relay.

After not competing at the League’s 2012 indoor track and field championships, DeRoo returned in the spring to take fourth place at the League meet with a personal best in the 10,000 while adding a fifth-place finish in the 5,000-meter run.

DeRoo excelled in the classroom as well as in competition, graduating with a 3.97 grade-point average with a degree in molecular biology. She was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year five times, including twice in cross country (2010, ’11), twice in indoor track and field (2010, ’11) and once in outdoor (2010). She twice earned first-team Academic All-America honors from CoSIDA in 2010 and again in ’11, and added Academic All-Patriot League honors for outdoor track this spring. Additionally, she’s a four-time member of the League’s Academic Honor Roll in cross country and a three-time honoree in track and field, and appears well on her way to a fourth. A member Colgate’s Dean’s List all four years, she earned the school’s Mitchell Memorial Award as the graduating student-athlete with the highest GPA.

DeRoo, who plans to spend next year working in a vascular surgery lab at the University of Michigan before attending medical school, participated in a number of volunteer initiatives over the last four years. In addition to serving as the historian of the Tribeta Biological Honor Society on campus the last two years, she participated in the Adopt a Classroom initiative, along with spending one summer volunteering in the endoscopy center at Danbury Hospital and at the Danbury Animal Shelter, both in Danbury, Conn.

Palacio was just as formidable a competitor as DeRoo. She opened her senior year by capturing the individual title at the 2011 Patriot League Cross Country Championships while collecting her third first-team All-League honor.

Palacio’s greatest athletic success came in track and field, specifically in the mid-distance events. She owns five individual school records and shares three others at Navy, and was named the Outstanding Female Track Athlete of the Patriot League Championships four times, including three straight years from 2010-12 at the outdoor meet and once at the indoor championships (2011). She has dominated the middle distance events at the championships the last three years, winning three consecutive titles in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs at the outdoor meet. She earned second-team All-America honors in the indoor mile, while qualifying three times for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field East Regional to go along with four ECAC All-East honors.

Palacio, who graduated with a degree in political science and international relations, served two and a half years in the United States Marine Corps, attaining the rank of Corporal (E-4), before enrolling in Annapolis. She was awared the Navy-Marine Achievement medal in 2006, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps when she graduated in May. During her senior year, Palacio served as a mentor to a specific Midshipmen who had an interest in serving in the Marine Corps and will continue that relationship now that she’s graduated. In 2011 she and the Navy cross country team conducted a community service event with the Annapolis Mighty Milers.

The Woman of the Year selection committee will review all nominations and narrow down the field to 10 NCAA student-athletes from each of the three divisions. From there, the committee will select the top three in each division before determining the NCAA Woman of the Year. The committee will announce the winner in October in Indianapolis, Ind., where the top 10 from each division will be recognized.